The Daily Decaf

taking a break from the buzz

Category: Commentaries

Just Another Fork In The Road


Contemplating my next life move.

Original post featured at Not All Who Wander Are Lost.

Two paths diverged in the woods. Luckily, I showed up early, and was able to walk down both. 

Each day, we blindly follow through with familiar routines. We approach daily tasks and chores with an unquestioned obedience. We, the programmed collective, do as we’re told; all the more often, we simply do as we know.

We repeat familiar tasks tirelessly, and lay our heads down on fresh pillows after exhausting days. It’s only when we uproot ourselves from such familiar scenes that we discover life’s alternatives. That other ways of living are not only possible, but also plentiful.

The question is, where do you start? How do you even begin the process of choosing which kind of life you want to live? What kind of person you want to be? With any number of options available, the process of narrowing them down can feel overwhelming. But have no fear: you got this.

You start by making mistakes. You pursue your passions with a reckless obsession, and you don’t give up until you’ve failed. Twice. Maybe even a few times. You become a master of your own universe, and you begin each day by staring yourself in the mirror, proclaiming, “I’m a superstar!And you remind yourself that it’s not just your mom who thinks so.

You spend sufficient time learning what doesn’t work for you-what feels forced, unnatural, or coerced- and you cross those things/people/places/jobs off the list. You trust in your gut, and your gut guides you.

Over time, you begin to develop a groove. You find yourself naturally drifting in a particular direction, signaling that your focus is being born. Sometimes, the current of mental adjustment is slow, causing what can feel like a meandering way forward. Other times, though, the current pulls you hard and fast in a specific direction. If this pull is consistent and strong, allow yourself to surrender to its pulls. This is your instinct guiding you in the right direction for you.

Flying: What Your Seat Choice Says About You

There are three kinds of people in this world: Aisle, Window, and Middle.

Aisle is the hyperactive extrovert.  They regard Middle and Window as prisoners of their own domain; their ability to socialize, stand, or even request a glass of water is entirely dependent cooperation from their rowmates to the side. Are Middle or Aisle sleeping? Well sorry Window, looks like you can’t use the bathroom for the remainder of this 7-hr flight.

Aisle, on the other hand, is free. They can control their own destiny.  Surrounded by constant stimuli, they find themselves exploring every opportunity they can scrape from the situation. There’s people watching: what’s the couple in 14A/B fighting about? Who’s child is jamming crayons into the ceiling fan? They can stand, stretch, use the bathroom, or acquire complementary snacks whenever they want.  Want conversation? They’re surrounded on all sides by other groups of travelers.

Have you ever heard the pilot come on the PA, frustrated: “For the third time people, the seatbelt sign is on for a reason, return to your seats and stay there.” That’s Aisle.  There are no rules for them. They’ll reluctantly return to their seats for a moment, but only to stuff their seat-back pockets full of all the treasure they’ve collected in the cabin. Leg twitching excitedly, they’re already planning their next move.

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How to Play it Cool After a Complimentary Upgrade


Pretending that you’re a somebody doesn’t come easy. It takes a good degree of skill and swagger to walk into a place and act like you’re the cream of the crop. The bee’s knees.

This post is about the awkwardness that comes from first class status. Specifically, it explores the real-life tension felt when Mike and I were upgraded to a swanky 5-star hotel suite while wearing flip flops and track suits.

This entire hotel experience has been a mistake. Not in the “It should have never happened and I regret it” sort of way. But in the sense that it all feels like one big accident. Like we showed up with the wrong ID and someone(s) far fancier, far richer, far more worthy were mistakenly identified as us. We checked in and were escorted to the 16th floor of the Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel, also known as the Executive Club floor. Upon arrival, we were led to room 1601, which turned out to be part room, part palace.

Floor to ceiling windows overlook the hustle, bustle and grind of the city streets below. The bathroom is located in the center of the entire suite–my first time experiencing such an exposed and grand tub. The club floor permits access to the executive lounge, which is essentially a relaxing spot for rich people to hide out from the world and drink for free.

After two weeks of barefoot, vagabond travel, we decided to embrace the sterile and ostracizing domains with a “Yes, please,” and “Can I have some more?” Several hours past check-out, we had overstayed our welcome. We should have been kicked out at check out and yet, there we were, still seated on the tan leather sofa, trying with great determination to not spill our third glass of red all over the couch cushions.

While our original plan was to fake it till we make it, we couldn’t help but feel hopelessly awkward and insecure. Anytime the staff made eye contact with us, we either smiled and nodded politely, or averted our eyes entirely. By the end, we had completely confused everyone, for our behavior and reactions were never consistent. Smiling in one moment and hiding our faces the next. We had lost our footing, were disoriented by our surroundings, and were no longer playing it cool. We were impostors of the saddest sort.

But, hey. At least the drinks were free.